Xanterra Puts Finishing Touches on Lake McDonald Lodge Restoration

Rooms will now feature historically accurate furnishings following multi-million dollar renovation

By Justin Franz
Lake McDonald Lodge. Beacon File Photo

With summer just around the corner, Xanterra Parks and Resorts, Inc. is wrapping up a multi-million dollar renovation at the historic Lake McDonald Lodge in Glacier National Park.

Since last fall, Xanterra has spent nearly $2.5 million installing new carpet and furnishings in the lodge. Xanterra General Manager Marc Ducharme said it is the largest renovation at the lodge in recent years and as of mid-April it was about 90 percent complete.

The Lake McDonald Lodge is one of a handful of projects Xanterra is undertaking in the park this spring. At the historic Many Glacier Hotel, the National Park Service is starting a multi-year safety and stabilization project. Ducharme said Xanterra is taking advantage of the fact that some of the walls in individual rooms will be ripped out so that it can update some of the carpets, paint and furniture. Upgrades are also underway at the Rising Sun Motor Inn.

Ducharme said visitors to the Lake McDonald Lodge will not notice any drastic changes to the lobby area, at least not this year, but guests will see major improvements in individual rooms.

“Guest rooms now feature time appropriate fixtures and furnishings so the rooms have a very historic feel when you walk into them. However, they still have all the modern amenities you expect in an upscale lodge,” he said. “We pored over the National Park Service archives looking for photos from 100 years ago to make sure we were on the right track.”

George Snyder built the first accommodations along Lake McDonald in 1895. Snyder ran the hotel until 1906 when John Lewis purchased it. Legend has it that Snyder actually lost the property in a poker game.

Lewis moved the old hotel and hired Kirkland Cutter to design a lodge “worthy of the park.” Cutter is the same architect behind Kalispell’s Conrad Mansion. The current lodge was opened for business in 1914. It was the only lodge in Glacier Park that was not built by the Great Northern Railway, but it was later purchased by the National Park Service and leased to the railroad.

Ducharme said that workers will be bringing in the final pieces of furniture in late April and that the lodge will be ready when it opens for the season on May 20.

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